Jealousy - The Most Viral Disease in Motorsports
I know it’s hard to believe jealousy could exist in an adrenaline filled, money and promotion driven industry such as Motorsports. Believe it or not, it seeps into our industry in a way that can feel suffocating at times. We’re all guilty of it, including myself. After seven years of driving racecars, I’ve learned to change my attitude about envy if I want to truly enjoy and cherish our sport. While jealousy can be derived from a multitude of aspects of our sport, there’s a few that seem to stand out above the rest.
Yes, let’s talk about money. We all know money is one of the most instrumental aspects of motorsports. Therefore, it’s an instrumental trigger for motorsports envy. However, there’s also a lot to be learned by the challenge that money presents to our industry. When I first entered motorsports, I was a young fan and only that. I didn’t get to go to the racetrack every weekend. It was a special occasion that occurred every so often when I could talk my parents into it. I got every penny’s worth of the $10 or so my dad would spend on my race ticket. I looked at every merchandise stand, every car, and watched every lap. I was truly obsessed.
Fast forward (no pun intended) to the days of racing in a recreational go-karting league at Slideways Karting Center when I was 11 years old. For $15 I got to race with a group of men in a real racing format in sprint car style go-karts that went about 20 miles an hour. I took league night very seriously and loved every minute of it. Between that and the $5 personal pan pizza I got with my Slideways buddies after every race, $20 a week got me “good ole’ days” memories that would last a lifetime.
Fast forward yet again to when I handed my dad an envelope with $800 cash when I was 12 to help him pay for my first go-kart. I went on to get my first batch of sponsorships to help fund my first couple years in outlaw karts. I always had good equipment, but it wasn’t new and I didn’t have three of everything.
Fast forward to today, where I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to own and operate a 360 sprint car team funded by a wonderful group of marketing partners I’m honored to market for. Without the financial support of sponsors, fans, friends, family, and myself, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to race. Additionally, I was able to purchase some outlaw karts with my own personal savings for my driver development program. I’m also in the process of pursuing a business degree as a backup for financial support of my own.
The point of these stories is not to brag, but to share that looking back it was never about the money. I never owned a brand new chassis until my seventh year of racing, and when I did, it didn’t buy me happiness. If I could write a letter to my 11 year old self, I would tell myself that the racecars I’d own someday weren’t going to equal happiness on their own. I’d say that some of the happiest days of my life would be those early days of Slideways leagues and outlaw karts. You could own all the racing equipment in the pits, but if there were no other people at the track but you, it wouldn’t matter. The people are what brings fulfillment and enjoyment to our sport.
Speaking of people, I feel as if some of the most tension caused by jealousy in the industry is produced by the communities of youth motorsports. I’ve seen the greatest acts of sportsmanship, respect, friendship, clean racing, and maturity by youth racecar drivers over any other age in the sport. However, it’s unfortunate that anyone exposed to these communities has witnessed the opposite from the parents.
To the parents, don’t look around the pits and be jealous of what someone else’s kid has or what some other kid’s parent does for a living. Don’t roll your eyes when a family rolls into the track with a double decker 53’ trailer and toter, and don’t laugh when a family rolls into the track with a rusty old pickup and flatbed. Don’t check social media on Sunday and be jealous of another child’s accomplishment. Don’t go to the track stressed out because you or your kid wants to be the next big thing. Don’t worry about when the other kids got started racing, where they’ve raced, who they’ve beat, or what age they are. I know it’s easy to say, “Yeah, but…..” Instead, be mature and free your mind, words, and actions from this jealousy.
Be thankful to the families that invest their time and resources into your kid’s sport.
Be thankful they provide competition and challenges.
Be thankful you have the opportunity to meet other families like yours that share the same interests.
Be thankful your child has the health and talent to be able to race.
Be thankful you get to make memories at the track with your child.
(And if it was me, be thankful you’re not at the ballfield).
Unfortunately, money doesn’t grow on trees and it seems like you can never have enough, and this is no exception in motorsports. Fans are jealous of the racers because they have racecars, racers are jealous of other racers because they have better equipment, lower level racers are jealous of higher level racers because they have the funding to race at the higher levels.
Travel the money boat all the way up to the Cup levels in NASCAR and a large portion of the field still doesn’t have the capital to compete at the top. The greatest racers in the world lose sponsorship and rides. Therefore, be thankful for what you do have. If you’re a fan, driver, owner, or sponsor, be proud of the role you play in the sport. Be grateful to simply be a part of it. Be genuinely supportive of and kind to the people around you because they matter the most. And never forget, the secret to having it all, is believing you already do.